Okay, OffSet. Here I am. And I’m going to tell you a few things. First of all, for every pitching coach who knows what he’s doing there are a hundred of them who don’t know their elbows from third base. Let’s forget about those hundred.
You would have loved Ed Lopat. He was my pitching coach for almost four years, and he was incredible. All that time in the minors, before he came up to the Chicago White Sox, he had been making a comprehensive study of pitching and pitchers, and he had been formulating his theories—things that he knew would work. First and foremost, he firmly believed that every pitcher has a natural motion, and what he would do—he’d show that pitcher how to make the most of it. He would not mess around and change a pitcher’s motion just because something was out of whack. He’d go after the problem, whatever it was, and come up with a sensible solution. Let me give you a small sample.
I had picked up the crossfire—that’s a move that works only with the sidearm delivery—and at one of our “curbstone consultations” as I referred to them, I mentioned this. He suddenly stopped me and said quietly, “Let’s see what you’re doing with it. Just go through the move.” I did, and immediately—he had this eerie way of spotting something that wasn’t quite right—he called my attention to the fact that I wasn’t getting quite the momentum going into it from the stretch the way I was doing from the full windup. I was flabbergasted, to say the least, and after expressing this I had to confess that I didn’t have much occasion to work from the stretch—not as a starter anyway. He looked at me and said, softly and emphatically with a hypnotic undertone that always grabbed me and held me where I was, “You’re getting the batters out.” And then he came up with an idea—a drill I could use to get up to speed from the stretch—which simply involved shortening my stride and taking a couple of extra steps toward third base (I’m righthanded, always have been)—and told me to work with that for a while. I did, and in short order I was able to get the speed I wanted.
He also showed me how to throw with a short-arm motion to go with my long-arm one—I was a natural sidearmer, and he worked with me to help me take full advantage of this delivery. He taught me a few interesting pitches to add to my arsenal of snake-jazz, and when I mentioned a problem I was having with holding runners on base he spent a whole morning with me on just that—holding runners on and pickoff moves. And at one point when we were talking about repertoire he asked me if I threw the screwball. When I replied that I did not, even though I knew how, he said "Good for you. You don’t need it."
If only there were more like Ed Lopat around—I’m willing to bet that someone like him would give you the advice and assistance you’re looking for. Now let me give you a piece of advice: get rid of these coaches that are giving you nothing but trouble, and do some experimenting on your own and see if you can get back into the groove you used to know. And if you need any more advice, I’m no farther away than this good old Toshiba computer. 8)